Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A trip to the big city!

     Growing up in a small, fairly rural community, there weren't a lot of places to shop for clothing, so several times a year, my family would make the long trip to the big city. This was before the interstate highway system was built so we would take the winding, country back roads. Up and down, up and down, up and down, over the hills we would travel. It's a good thing none of us ever suffered from car sickness or the trip would have been miserable! Back then the trip took over three hours, today it takes less than two.We never minded the trip because we knew what awaited us when we reached our ultimate destination, Lazarus Department Store.

      Lazarus was a huge complex, six stories tall, not including several basements and extended for block after city block. This store was amazing, with no less than four restaurants, lounges, every type of department you could imagine and it's very own auditorium. During the Christmas Holidays the large store windows were an attraction unto themselves, a fantasy world to delight old and young alike. 
      As children, we would have made a bee-line to the 6th floor if our parents would have permitted it, for the 6th floor is where the toy department was located. Yes, the toy department had all the latest and greatest toys but they also carried a wonderful assortment of heirloom toys and toys imported from the far corners of the world. I can still see the display of Steiff stuffed animals and Madame Alexander dolls. Lazarus took great pride in customer service and knew a happy shopper would spend more money. And so I think it was no accident that the auditorium was located right next to the toy department and was the perfect place for busy parents to deposit their children so they could shop in peace and quiet. They didn't have to worry about their children because they would be so well entertained, they wouldn't even notice their parents were missing. My favorite form of entertainment offered by Lazarus, were the Marionette shows. They were so lifelike and the performance so professional, one would forget they were watching puppets. Because of these very shows, I made up my mind, I too wanted to be a puppeteer!

Here I am on my Birthday, torturing my older sisters with my puppeteer skills! Notice my oldest sister trying to slink away under the table!

My parents bought me my first Marionette at Lazarus for my ninth birthday, a happy little clown. 

The following Christmas, I would receive a Mickey Mouse Marionette AND a puppet theater. My poor family, they had to endure sitting through numerous puppet shows, performed by MOI as I made the little clown and Mickey Mouse dance and play! I don't know whatever happened to the Mickey Mouse but I still have the Happy Little Clown, he hangs from a peg on the RED shelf in my studio, hoping that someday, he will dance again!
I'm linking this post to REDnesday at It's A Very Cherry World
Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady.


  1. Wow, that store looks even nicer than the old Marshall Fields, which was a big deal to see when I was little! I think it's so great that you still have your clown marionette. I love that picture of you as a child, putting on a show in the kitchen. But all I keep thinking is that I wish I could get a better look at that tablecloth!
    Happy REDnesday!

  2. What a sweet and nostalgic post. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and we would go to Macy's in NYC. It was a big adventure too.

  3. Hi Nan!
    Your posts are always so charming and transport me back in time. This one is so much fun - I can't get over that department store! WOW! I've never been to anything like that. The picture of your sisters and you with your marionette, is so precious. I can remember our Blue Bird troop going to see a show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. Thanks for the sweet memories.

    Happy Rednesday,

  4. LOL..what a fun post!! Firstly, I love your sweet Marionette and your story of torturing your loved ones with shows.

    Even though we were city kids, shopping wasn't a recreational thing like it is today. It was a HUGE deal to go downtown to the department stores. And always at Christmas (which didn't start until the day AFTER Thanksgiving when the parade was) we went to see the decorations. I remember my mother's cousin was an elevator operator at one of the large department stores, lol.


  5. My grandparents brought me one back from their trip to Mexico. I was 5..and insisted I could take it to show and tell at nursery school. I remember the lectures of be careful with the puppet..don't let anyone else play with could tangle up the cords..somehow I don't remember a talk about not swinging it around and slamming it into a brick wall..well they should of covered all the angles!!lol yes I was a ring tail tooter. Toys didn't last long with is so neat to see you still have yours!!Thanks for know now to play careful with them!!

    Hugs Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

  6. Love this post! Where was this big Lazaruz? We had a 3 story on in our mall in Mansfield! It was in the Richland County Mall. I loved going to the mall for all these cool stores that they haven't even heard of here! O'neil's was 3 stories too, right in the middle, when you came in the front entrance it was straight ahead at the end of the mall. It had an external glass elevator! That was so cool.
    Love your Marionette! My dad brought my brother and I one back from Brazil one year when he did a business trio there. They are the most fun!
    Hugs- Tete

  7. Shopping used to be more fun...when it was a rare treat rather than a "lets go to the mall" everyday activity. I had an older cousin who would drive take me with her to the big city to the "mall". We would walk through the entire mall, looking in every store..then back track to where she wanted to shop (I was too young and really was along for company). Those were special memories. Love this were an adorable Puppet Master!

  8. I remember Marshall Fields in CHicago-when I was a kid. We would go downtown at Christmas and check out the windows and the huge tree and the toy floor. You've brought back some great memories for me. I love the marionette!

  9. I remember Marshall Fields in Chicago too. It is sad that there aren't any real old-fashioned department stores left.

  10. This post made me look up a dept store I loved to go into too as a child in the 40-50's in Sacramento. It has a milk bar for kids and we could sit there and have a chocolate milk in an Elsie the cow mug. Come to find out I found a video on line that actually showed the milk bar !! Oh yes those Christmas windows I do remember them with the Madame Alexander dolls in them !!

  11. What a wonderful post,
    love the picture of you and the story. :)

  12. I love this post, a lot of fun. I had forgotten about my Mickey marionette until I read this (I think it was Mickey). Fabulous pictures, what wonderful memories!

  13. How fun was this post!!! I love the marionette, I used to always want one of these. Happy VTT

  14. You are so cute, Nan! I love the 'show' ... your sister doesn't know what she's missing. Chuckle.
    Love your photos.

    Now I see you live in SC ... WHERE!? We were just there ... I didn't get to see you, sniff! on that trip we just took ... please send me your address full name & address so I don't miss you next time ~

    Have a lovely eve ~
    TTFN ~ Marydon

  15. Loved your post! Today's malls can not hold a candle to those huge, old department stores.

  16. A special trip down memory lane...
    love the clown too!

    Happy Rednesday!

    Kay Ellen

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